Your RDA of Irony

Your RDA of Albania

Today is Independence Day in Albania. Let’s celebrate its 96 years of sovereign obscurity.

Albania, like Bulgaria, is generally regarded as a fictional country because no one ever seems to be from there. This anonymity is actually encouraged by the Albanians to avoid conquest. Unfortunately for the Albanians, it is only the second worst place in the Balkans, so invaders do show up–even if it is never worth the effort.

(By the way, Montenegro has the distinction of being the worst. The Turks never bothered to invade.)

Among Albania’s conquerors were the Romans, the Byzantines, the Slavs, the Byzantines again, the French (after the 4th Crusade pillage extravaganza) the Serbs (Slavs with Byzantine culture), and the Ottomans. In a gesture of sycophany that surpasses even the French, the Albanians converted to Islam. It spared the Albanians the infidel tax, but the Turks weren’t particularly impressed. Albania would remain the Mississippi of the Ottoman Empire.

Defeated in the Balkan War of 1912, the Turks were forced to cede Northern Greece, Macedonia and (as if they cared) Albania, Now independent, it took Albania almost a decade to form a government; that is say, find a willing and reasonably competent dictator. The resultant leader was that great trivia question: King Zog.

Zog’s glorious reign ended in 1939, when Fascist Italy invaded Albania. Yes, that was Albania’s ultimate humiliation. Being conquered by Mussolini’s “Iron Legions” is like punched out by a Quaker.

After World War II, Albanian Communists seized the country. (No one else probably cared.) It must have been considerable solace to Stalin that, even if he lost Yugoslavia, he still had Albania. It was isolated from the rest of the Soviet bloc, however. Indeed, the British and CIA attempted covert operations to overthrow the Albanian communists. Unfortunately, the British Secret Service was also the Cambridge branch of the KGB, so those covert operations always failed. With Stalin’s death and the Kremlin’s subsequent denunciation of him, Albania felt even more isolated. The Soviet Union was now too liberal for Albania. So, Albania offered to be Communist China’s ally in Europe. In a rare demonstration of Chinese humor, Mao agreed. So, for over three decades, an impoverished, Slavic/Moslem enclave would broadcast (where there was electricity) the quotations of Mao. During this period, Albania lived in xenophobic isolation from the rest of Europe. It is probable that Europe never noticed.

Today, however, Albania is an impoverished Slavic/Moslem enclave that welcomes tourists. Gypsies flee there to avoid extradition to Italy.

  1. Tosh says:

    Well these anonymous folks certainly do seem to have a sense of humor. I thought it was just the Irish but now they’ve got some competition. Enjoyed listening to your conversation with Bob Kincaid.

  2. The best example of Albanian humor is John Belushi.

    Mother Teresa was also Albanian. I am not sure about her sense of humor although she is rumored to have had a tattoo of Barry Fitzgerald in a see-through surplice.

  3. Bob Kincaid says:

    Atta boy, Tosh!

    Jump right in! The bloggin’s fine!

  4. Albania is one topic that you will never hear on the otherwise fearless ,hosted by that valiant liberal and mellifluous charmer Bob Kincaid.

    Unfortunately, Mr. Kincaid has long been a stooge of the Albanian lobby. It is rumored that his Swiss bank account is regularly replenished with two jars of Albania’s finest goat jam.

  5. Bob Kincaid says:


    And I LOVES me some goat jam!

    Pass the ragweed muffins, ma!

  6. Judy says:

    I happen to know an Albanian woman here in Chicago. I won’t be forwarding your RDA of Irony as we should show some hospitality . . . .

  7. Jason says:

    In Paul Theroux’s “The Pillars of Hercules,” the Albanian portion of his Mediterranean journey is probably the most distressing and most memorable part of the book…it may be a small section of text, but I feel that it really captures the despair and anarchy that reigned when the Communist satellite was released from its orbit.

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